Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Changing Seasons

Just as quickly as spring dove into summer, once it finally decided to that is, summer has taken it's dive into fall.  It has been raining in the mornings. The morning air has begun to have that fall crispness to it.  The daytime temps here have been in the high 60's to mid 70s with clouds and some wind.  not cool enough for another layer but not warm enough to avoid thinking about one entirely.  quite a pleasant way to work!  The nights have been frosting in some places, some folks have even had killing frosts as early as last week, we've heard!  *Knock on Wood* Our garden has so far evaded frosts. 

In some moments, I'm sad to see the summer go.  I know it'll be back again next year but It's so long to wait!  No worries about coats, shorts every day, no shoes necessary, farmer's tans, Swimming daily.

In other instants, I'm glad, relieved, cheering even for the wheel of the year to turn.  Apple cider, warm fuzzy wool sweaters, stick-to-the-ribs crockpot meals, halloween, thanksgiving, Yuletide seasons.

Spinning wool, garden planning, cleaning house.  Preparing for chickens, analyzing data.  Feeding sheep and playing in the hay.

So much to miss and yet so much to look forward to.  Every season has it's beat and it brings the rhythm to the year.  Always changing, never ending.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Children on the Small Farm

Once, a long time ago for this area, agrarian pursuits were a necessity of life.  Folks didn't "go to work" in the same sense that most of us generally do today.  Children weren't such a burden but a blessing upon their families.  Children were welcomed into most life spaces and activities.  Efficiency was traded for education and learning and being part of a larger community.  Children and their families lived generally in larger familial or religious or some other form of the village.  I'd bet that is from where the notion that "it takes a village to raise a child" came.

It seems that the village today has been traded for "SuperMom" who cleans and cooks and washes and transports and schedules and plans and manages and teaches and so on and so forth.  At least it seems that way to me.  Some may call my plate overfull (which it is) or me just a young, new-ish mother (which I am).  And while my family is still learning how to blend together, we also have a few things figured out quite nicely thanks.

One, our children need other people besides us to interact with.  Well, during Market season, they get to go once a week with a dear friend to play for a few hours.  Yes, they miss a good deal of learning about working and being at the market but it gives them a break as well as us!  everyone is happy all around.  (that and we go to two markets and have only one night is with our friend, so they're still getting that).

We have also, our circle of friends.  Granted, most of them are older and if they have children they are teenagers.  But who cares?  We see eye-to-eye with them most of the time.  That is always the important part of friendship, not age or life stage although those can be nice at times too.  They love us, we love them, they love our whole family and our kids have tons of loving aunties.

We are starting to figure out how to run our farm both as a business and as a passion together with our children.  Obviously, we cannot afford daycare, not on the farm and certainly not on my small income.  We often explain our baby steps as "bootstrapping" it all together.  We certainly are.  We have had some generous help in some places but we refuse to place ourselves in debt because we know we will never escape it.  We have placed economic sustainability at the forefront of our business and life.  One step provides for the next.  One day, our farm will be our livelihood.  Our children therefore, are a part of our business as well as our family.  Being nearly two and nearly four, they're not always the most helpful but they have their moments and they have their small helpful routines.

HannaMae always helps Papa harvest cucumbers.  Alli is starting to understand the concept of a "red" tomato as opposed to a "green" tomato.  sometimes.  They are rather effective herders of sheep in simple situations.  they are awesome brick-movers, for a little while.  They are super good at the art of a dirt bath and in the mud-hole swim.  They have incredible imaginative abilities.

No, their childhood is definitely far from today's conventional childhood of snacktime and playdates.  Rarely is anything on a rigid schedule at our house.  They go to bed after 8pm.  Do I care?  Yes and No.  Yes because they are outside the societal norm and may have a hard time becoming part of it all.  No because I know they are happy, healthy, well-fed, imaginative, intelligent, have strong immune systems, are creative and curious.

So when folks ask us how we do it all, our answer is "we don't."  Something always falls through the cracks.  Sometimes dinner isn't until 9 or ten or 11 sometimes.  Sometimes they watch every movie they own in a week... twice.  Sometimes they get so dirty i can't recognize them as my own.  Sometimes people ask me where they got so dirty on days that they are a little dusty and I prickle at them.  But I'm sure they'll turn out okay.

I'm also sure that between Jason and me, as husband and wife and as business partners, we will be able to figure it out.  The two of us will be able to be counted as one and a half workers or even two in some moments not because we have a babysitter but because our kids know how to "help out" by staying out of the thick of it all for a few moments.  We will be able to manage our farm so that we will be able to hire some extra hands for the most desperate times and still pay ourselves enough to live on.  maybe, someday we'll even be able to afford our own health insurance!

Yep, parenting and farming are both full-time jobs without pay or hours.  That doesn't mean that it has to be one or the other.  gee, maybe we'll even homeschool our kids while earning our living wage...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Squash

6 Zucchini
2 Beets
1 bunch Kale
Olive Oil
Salt, Balsamic
Vinegar, other spices to

Slice one side from the zucchini or slice in half if large or cut to appropriate size and then hollow it out, leaving a sturdy shell.

Chop the beets into small pieces

Rip up the kale into pieces.

Combine the beets, Zucchini insides, ¾ of the kale. Dress with olive oil and vinegar/salt/spices to taste. Place a layer of kale in the bottom of each zucchini boat and stuff with the veggie mix to capacity. Roast at 350’ F for about 10 min or until Kale becomes crisp. You can roast the remaining mixture for a side as well. Best served warm.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Little Shepherdess

A few weeks ago, The sheep were fenced into an area between our garden sections.  There are about 7 lambs that simply do not respect our four-strand electric fencing in part because of their full wool coats (insulating against shocks).  Thus, we were constantly having several lambs out and eating grass by the old grain elevator, eating weeds in the squash and corn, luckily leaving the crops themselves alone.  Not a huge deal but a nuisance.  Jason was working on a small wier in the creek to allow us to pump water for the garden even during the dryest parts of summer.  Up to his elbows in creek muck, literally, HannaMae came down and informed him that there were sheep out of the fence.  Jason told her he would have to handle it in a few minutes.  "I'll take care of it" she said and marched off.  A few minutes later, Jason started thinking about what HannaMae had said and went to see what she and Alethea were up to.

HannaMae was directing Alethea to walk this way and that and was using her as a blockade to collect and drive the lambs back inside the fence.

They did it all by themselves, a nearly 4 year old and nearly 2 year old.  no help or direction from Papa, on their own initiative, smartly and safely.

Little shepherdesses with a knack for the art.